International Celebrities Who Rocked the Saree!
Traditional Indian culture has witnessed a massive increase in representation in mainstream western media in the recent years. This helps western media become more diverse and connect with a broader audience, while also propelling Indian culture to the international stage. Part of this increased popularity can be attributed to megastars with global fanbases donning kurtas and sarees in movies, parties and telecasted social events.
We take a look at some of the biggest western celebrities from across films, tech and popular media in general, who have made waves by rocking traditional Indian attire!
- Serena and Venus Williams
Venus Williams rocking a saree at the Raptor's Ball
The Williams sisters headlined The Bangalore Open in 2008, competing in both the singles and doubles categories. They made headlines not just on the court, with Serena taking home Gold, but also off it by donning traditional attire for the social night held at The Leela Palace.
Both sported (geddit?) traditional silk sarees with golden zari borders, and the Indian media had a field day (we are on a roll right now). In 2014, Venus returned to Bangalore to play for the Bangalore Raptors of the Champions Tennis League and walked the ramp in a yellow saree to traditional music. Their Williams sisters’ decision to wear sarees has always met with much appreciation by the Indian sports community and the diaspora at large.
- Selena Gomez
The viral Instagram photo of Selena Gomez titled, "Sari, not Sari".
Popular singing sensation Selena Gomez sent her Indian fans in a frenzy when she donned the saree on a visit to Nepal in 2014. She also uploaded a saree-clad pic of herself on Instagram which received 1.2M likes within an hour of posting! The image was quirkily captioned, “Sari, Not Sari”, and features Selena wearing a saree with golden zari work inlaid within a traditional temple border. This has also ignited a series of traditional looks that Selena has sported since.
She wore a Bindi with her western outfit to create a fusion look for an MTV performance of her song, ‘Come and Get It’. The song featured a prominent Tabla beat, bringing classical music to contemporary pop for the first time since the Beatles used the Sitars in their music in the 60s.
- Oprah Winfrey
A legendary media mogul, billionaire Oprah Winfrey began her tryst with traditional Indian sarees when she hosted Aishwarya Rai on her talk show. Representing India exemplarily on the global stage (she was Miss World, after all), Aishwarya busted myths and stigmas associated with Indian culture before gifting Oprah a staid dual-tone saree. Oprah even had Aishwarya help her wear it on her show, viewed by millions across the globe!
Later in 2012, on Oprah’s maiden trip to India, she paid a visit to the Bachchan family and sported an orange Kanjeevaram saree made of lustrous silk. She further wore a matte green saree with a black choli at an inauguration on the same trip! Oprah is now a firm saree sporter and owns an entire custom collection made for her by famous designer Manish Malhotra.
Oprah Winfrey wearing a saree on her maiden visit to India in 2012.
- Julia Roberts
The original Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts is inarguably one of the greatest actors in Hollywood history. She achieved this distinction through her sheer acting prowess, which was on full display in Eat, Pray, Love, a film where she plays a counselor in India. She is seen sporting traditional Gujrati outfits in the film, most notably a Gujrati style green silk saree.
The saree has elaborate golden zari patterns across its body and features detailed and intricate designs. Julia carried the saree with finesse and poise, presenting it as a sight to behold for audiences across the globe! What a fitting introduction of the saree to unfamiliar eyes.
Roberts wearing a saree from a scene in Eat, Pray, Love.
- Victoria Beckham
Arguably the most famous Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham is no stranger to posing for magazine covers. Her cover feature for Vogue India was no different- except that she made waves by choosing to don a beautiful modern bridal saree in her feature photo! Sporting a stunning red saree with heavy zari work and Zardozi patterns, Beckham exudes confidence and panache in an unfamiliar, disruptive look. It remains as iconic now as it were when we were first treated to it!
The biggest takeaway from the gradual adoption of traditional Indian wear by western celebrities is the limelight that Indian culture is now thrust into. This visibility is not tokenistic, for the celebrities are not wearing Indian outfits to simply pander to an audience. Instead, they are acting as global ambassadors of traditional Indian attire and portraying it in mainstream media such as Hollywood moves, global magazine covers and global chart-topping music releases.
These have brought traditional Indian culture and apparel into the mainstream western consciousness and have created a good platform for Indian culture to project from.
At your next social gathering, proudly rock the exotic Indian look! Need help? Browse from the full range of amazing options available on our website.
- Team Shobitam